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How to Become a Teacher If You Already Have a Master's Degree

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Obtaining a master's degree can qualify you for many different careers. A master's degree is typically used to help a person move up the ladder in their current profession or as a stepping stone to a doctoral degree in some academic disciplines. However, those seeking a career change, or even just graduating from their master's degree program with little or no work experience, can utilize their degree become a teacher. Teachers with higher levels of education can make more money than those with a bachelor's degree, but they may not be at an advantage over bachelor's degree holders when competing for a job.

Visit the website of your state's department of education to determine the requirements for alternative certification in your state. Alternative certification only requires that you have a bachelor's degree. If you have a master's degree in a field related to academic disciplines taught within the public school system, you can use that to obtain certification as well.

Submit an application for alternative certification to the state's education board. Once you know the additional requirements for your state beyond your academic degrees, you can begin the application process and meet these requirements while the board reviews your application to determine your eligibility. Some states will require that applicants take additional courses in education or child psychology before allowing them to test for certification. Your application will likely require additional documentation such as your resume, transcripts from each college you attended and recommendation letters from someone familiar with your academic and professional aptitude.

Pass the certification exams once you have been determined to be eligible to do so. Each state requires a series of certification exams to determine that all teaching applicants have sufficient knowledge of their field to teach in the public school system. Aside from exams testing your knowledge of your field of study, the state may also require you to take an examination testing your knowledge of classroom management, ethical dilemmas in the classroom and teaching theory.

Complete the application process. In some states, you can only complete the rest of the application process once you have passed the certification exams. You may be required to pass a background check or complete a formal interview with the state's education board before you are fully certified. Licensing usually comes after you have taught for a predetermined period of time under the supervision of officials in the school where you teach.

Seek and apply for teaching positions. One disadvantage that a master's degree holder may have in seeking open teaching positions is the fact that schools can pay teachers with only a bachelor's degree less money and therefore save on budget costs. Seeking teaching opportunities in areas where there is an extreme shortage of teachers might help ensure that you find employment quickly. Some states such as Louisiana have special programs to recruit teachers to serve in these areas. Places to seek employment include impoverished rural areas or inner city areas that other teaching applicants tend to avoid.


Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.

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